The City At The End of Time
rating: +3+x

Cedar leaned against the railing of the airship as it descended a deep cavern in the shelves. The light from The Library above them faded with every passing mile until only the ethereal, green glow of the ship’s torches illuminated their surroundings. Cedar used the dim light to check their notes. As they flipped through the yellowing pages of their college notebook, they recalled the lecture that set them on this journey almost a decade ago.


Dr. Irene Carter stood at the front of Deer College’s lecture hall. She spoke to the class with the intensity of a woman obsessed, frantically drawing timelines and diagrams on the whiteboard, stopping only occasionally to take a breath, “The myth of Atlantis, you see, is that it sunk into the sea. But this simply isn’t true. Atlantis was believed to be in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, so, if it did sink, even the mundanes would’ve been able to find it by now.”

Her passion for the subject entrapped Cedar. They were scribbling down notes just as fast as she was speaking.

“No, no, no. Atlantis didn’t sink. It-it-it shifted, disappeared, was transported into some parallel universe or dimension.” She ran a hand through her thick, black hair and adjusted her glasses before continuing. “And we know this because we’ve seen it!”

Dr. Carter pulled a remote out of her jacket and pressed a button to turn on the projector. She hit the lights and loaded up a video onto the screen. It was black and white. All that could be seen was a circled-off area with lights and speakers aimed at it. A monotone voice spoke over the video, “Unresponsive. Decreasing frequency. Ten Hertz.”

Slowly, a strange, static shimmering appeared in the middle of the circle. Like television tuned to a dead channel.

“We’ve got something!” The voice exclaimed. “Decreasing wavelength. Two hundred nanometers.”

Something happened to the lights around the circle and suddenly they could see through the shimmering. It was the skyline of a strange city. Skyscrapers built with white stone, circular windows carved out of them. There was a railway system built around the skyscrapers, spiraling up them—a vast, thriving cityscape. The Atlantians lived. The video ended and Dr. Carter turned the lights on.

“We don’t know why Atlantis disappeared for certain,” she started. “Some accounts say the gods cursed them, others say they discovered some kind of technology that went haywire. But, I believe there is a way to enter Atlantis. There’s a place, or a place between places, called The Wanderers’ Library. It’s said to contain a vast amount of knowledge, with bookshelves that go on forever. It is also said to have Ways into every universe. If there is a way to access Atlantis, I’ll bet it can be discovered there. Of course, the only problem there is figuring out how to get into The Library.”

The class chuckled softly as Cedar jotted down the details of the Wanderers’ Library.


“We’ll be yonder soon, Bardot,” The Captain bellowed, his pinchers steadily guiding the ship’s helm. He was a giant crab, The Captain, came up to Cedar’s waist. They had to stop themself from laughing every time they saw him. Though they did respect him, they didn’t think he’d fully appreciate why the sight of him in a pirate hat was so funny.

“Thanks, Captain.” Everyone only ever called him ‘The Captain.’ Cedar asked him what his real name was once, but the reply was a cacophony of guttural crustacean sounds that they had no hope of replicating.

“If ye don’ mind ma curiosity,” The Captain began to ask. “What be ye hopin’ ta find doon ‘ere? Stories I heard, not much ta be lookin’ for in Atlantis.”

Cedar closed their notebook and put it back in their messenger bag. “Not something, Captain. Someone. A woman I have a great deal of respect for, college professor of mine. She went on an expedition to Atlantis two years ago. Never came back.”

“Ahh, women,” The Captain shuddered. “Gorgeous they are, it be their charms causin’ the unwittin’ ta act a-foolish.”

Cedar laughed a bit. “It’s nothing like that, Captain. The only girl I have eyes for is back at the R’lyeh. No, I respect this woman as an intellectual and fellow academic.”

“All I’s sayin’, Bardot, she went with an entire crew an’ ain’t come back. Yer goin’ alone. Sounds quite a-foolish ta me.”

“I never said I wasn’t a fool,” Cedar joked back. They both laughed as the ship continued its descent. An hour later they reached their altitude.

“There!” Cedar pointed off the starboard side. A part of the shelf was twisting into itself, folding and stretching in places where it should have been impossible. The Cedar of a decade ago would’ve gone mad at such a sight. Now, they knew this was likely the least spectacular part of the journey. They started rummaging through the bag again and pulled out another journal inscribed: Dr. Carter.

“Ya sure ya can go it alone, Bardot?” The Captain asked as he scuttled over to Cedar. They opened the journal and flipped to a drawn map leading to the reality-defying shelf.

“If her footsteps are behind and in front of me, I’m never really alone.” Cedar started reading the instructions on how to get through the Way. The words, ‘LEAP OF FAITH’ were underlined. “How long can you stay here?”

“Oh, I reckon I’ve enough grub fer a day er two,” The Captain answered. “But time could work different there.”

“The place is from Earth. Is that two twenty-four-hour cycles?”

“Aye.”

“Good. If it takes me any longer than that, leave.” Shoving the journal back into their bag, Cedar stepped forward as the ship came up beside the shelf. They climbed over the ship’s railing and reached into the warping wood. As soon as their fingertips touched it, Cedar’s body was yanked into the gap in reality. They felt like they were two-dimensional, their body stretching infinitely up and down. They could simultaneously see The Captain behind them, standing on his ship and waving his hat farewell, and the winding, twisting space in front of them. Everything felt like a solid, liquid, and gas at the same time. They fought to keep their lunch down and moved forward. They were standing in a spiral, then on all four sides of a square, then a face came out of the warp, it whispered something. Then Cedar blinked.

It felt as if a sea breeze washed over Cedar’s skin, but they heard no waves nor did they smell salt water. They were in an alley. The white building in front of them stretched upward with the intricacies of Greek architecture. It was dark and there was a blue haze to everything, like they’d just stared at the sun with their eyes closed. Stepping out into the street, Cedar surveyed their surroundings. It was empty, silent. The street seemed to echo past memories of life. Faint, disembodied voices came from nowhere as Cedar walked down the cobblestone road. They didn’t understand the language but assumed it was some archaic form of Greek. There was no sign of decay, not in the streets, not in the buildings, and not in the monolithic pillars holding them up. Cedar began to picture themself in the back lot of a movie studio, they could imagine turning a corner and seeing a film crew using one of the streets as a set. The image became so clear that they half expected to see it as they rounded a bend in the street. But there was no camera, only a little boy, alone, sitting in the middle of the street, playing with a stick.

Cedar steadily approached the boy, careful not to scare him. He was dressed in typical Greek clothes. Cedar thought that a leather flight jacket and jeans were likely to confuse him.

“Hey, kid,” Cedar called at a comfortable distance. Their limited knowledge of the Ancient Greek vocabulary was escaping them. They began to wonder if he’d know any Latin. The boy didn’t move. He didn’t look up, he didn’t even continue to play with the stick. He was frozen completely. Cedar glanced around for an adult or an ambush, but there were none. When their attention was back on the boy, he was already looking up at them. He looked older than they had thought. “Oh, hey, I’m looking for, shit. Uhhh.”

Cedar opened their bag again and began digging through until they found a paperback copy of Where Is Atlantis. They showed the back of the book to the boy and pointed to the portrait of their professor printed on it.

“Oπou?” Cedar asked, hoping the word would share some similarity with its ancient root. Slowly, the boy began to get up and Cedar realized he was much older than they thought. They estimated him to be about eight or nine but as he rose from his knees, it was clear that he had to be thirteen or fourteen. Then he stood straight up and looked to be in his late teens. No, Cedar didn’t misjudge his age, he was aging with every movement. The passage of time was playing out right before Cedar’s eyes, the process of which both fascinated and terrified them. He was a grown man as he turned to face a large building that exuded authority, and a middle-aged man as he raised his arm to point at it. Cedar looked at the building and then back at the man. Hesitantly, they ascended the stairs of the building but glanced over their shoulder before entering to see an old man starting to walk away from them. Then, they walked in.

The same blue tint hung in the air of the temple. Cedar noticed that there was no source of light, yet it was not difficult to see, as if the entire city was in perpetual twilight. A statue of Zeus wielding a lightning bolt stood directly across from the entrance. Food and coins lay at his feet. Cedar watched as the wheat, bits of meat, and vegetables rotted, freshened, and then rotted again. They walked closer to the statue, mesmerized by the infinitely dying items. Remembering why they came here, they scanned the room.

“Dr. Carter?” Cedar called out. There was no reply, but a gurgling sound started coming from somewhere. Cedar called out again, and the gurgling got louder. It sounded like someone was trying to cough and swallow at the same time. Cedar scanned the room once more, but it was empty, only the decor of the ancient temple proved anyone was ever there. They took a step back towards the entrance, and suddenly a man in robes materialized in front of them. He was wrinkled in some places and smooth in others. His right arm was significantly shorter than it should have been. He was screaming, or trying to scream, something through that gurgling as he charged toward Cedar. He barreled into them, tackling them into the statue.

“Βοήθησέ με!” the man screamed as his face started to wither. He was clawing at Cedar’s arms, digging into their biceps and pinning them to the statue. Cedar grabbed him by the arms and kneed him in the stomach. As he keeled over, they shoved him off and sprinted through the temple. They tripped over their own feet as they got to the exit and went tumbling down the stairs. They heard one of their vertebrae crack when their spine hit the steps. They managed to break some of the falls with their arms, but they could already feel bruises forming once they got to the bottom.

“Shit,” Cedar muttered as they got up and dusted themself off. They scanned their surroundings once again. This wasn’t the same street they entered from. They couldn’t remember if they had run out of the same entrance, but this seemed to be a completely different part of the city. There was a vibrant, yellow light emanating from the top of one of the white towers, the tallest one. It was nearly a thousand feet high. Cedar felt eyes on their back as they walked to the tower’s wooden door. They pushed against it, but it didn’t budge. That feeling of being watched was growing. Cedar turned around to try and face their stalker, and they saw him, her, it. A void in the shape of something living. It stood forty yards away from them, swallowing all of the light around it. It was like a piece was cut out of that blue haze, it existed in both the foreground and background of Cedar’s vision. A knot formed in their stomach as they had a feeling they had only twice before: They were not meant to be seeing this.

Cedar threw their body against the door in a frenzy. They forgot about the light at the top of the tower, they forgot about their professor, they forgot about Atlantis. The only thing they cared about, the only thing that mattered at that moment was getting away from that thing. They hit the door with all their strength and went crashing through it, splinters flying across the room. There was nothing in that tower except a spiraling staircase leading to the top. Cedar looked back at the standing void. It had gotten closer and was reaching out solemnly as if it was asking them to come back. Its presence didn’t just swallow light, as it got closer, it seemed to swallow everything good. Hope, joy, and even curiosity vanished and it left only fear and sadness. Cedar had encountered strange beings and monsters before, but none filled them with the same instinctual fear as that void. Cedar slammed what was left of the door closed and sprinted up the stairs. It took them a half hour to reach the top of the tower. They were constantly looking back down the stairs, expecting the void to be crawling up after them, but it never did. Finally, they reached the trap door at the top of the staircase and threw it open, only to be blinded by the golden light that poured in from it. They yelled and covered their eyes. Their back foot began to slip from the step. Their balance escaping them, Cedar reached out to grab something, anything but found only air. Suddenly, a hand wrapped around their wrist and pulled them upward through the hatch. They were thrown onto the ground as they heard the trap door shut, then something was forced around their head. They tried to fight it off until they realized it was a pair of welding goggles.

Cedar tried to blink away the spots where the light burned their retinas. Above them, stood a woman somewhere in her mid-fifties, wearing a similar pair of goggles. White spots grew from her temples, which stood in contrast to her long dark hair. Her cheeks and forehead were creased with wrinkles. She was older than they remembered, but Cedar’s professor had the same excited energy that she always did.

“Dr. Carter?”

“Bardot?” Irene shared Cedar’s confusion. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Uhh, looking for you,” Cedar answered.

She helped Cedar to their feet. “Me? How long has it been?”

“Two years.”

“Hmm,” Irene hummed. “Feels longer.”

Cedar turned their attention to the bright, golden light emanating from the center of the room. There was a huge pillar that widened at the top and bottom. In the middle of this pillar was a small pyramid which the light was coming from. The pyramid was the only thing connecting the top and bottom parts of the pillar; if it was removed the roof would cave in. On the other side of the room, there was a desk covered in various notebooks and parchments, right next to the desk was a lone, disheveled bedroll. A window provided what would have been a beautiful view of the city, if the city was still alive, that is.

Cedar pointed at the pyramid. “What is it?”

Irene looked at the pyramid, then back at Cedar and a huge smile came across her face. “I call it: The Regulator. It’s why Atlantis disappeared.”

Cedar adjusted their goggles and got closer to The Regulator. The body of the pyramid itself seemed to be made from some dark metal, the glow was emanating from grooves carved into the metal. “It doesn’t look Greek.”

“No, no it doesn’t,” Irene said as she walked over to the desk and started looking through the parchments. “I think they discovered it. As to where they found it, well, I don’t know quite yet.”

“Do you know what it does exactly?”

“It makes time move non-linearly. Well, inconsistently might be a better way of putting it. You must have seen it by now, things age too quickly or too slowly or out of order. I’d need some modern equipment to prove it, but I hypothesize that there’s a miniature black hole inside of it, bending time and space around it. I think the Atlantians were studying it when it became unstable,” Irene happily explained as she continued looking through the documents. She found the one she was looking for and handed it to Cedar. “Here. It’s an Atlantian’s notes on it.”

Cedar took the parchment and skimmed over it. From what they gathered, the author of the notes had a particular interest in the metal from which The Regulator was made. Cedar handed the parchment back to Irene, taking another scan of the room. “Are you the only one living up here?”

“Yeah,” Dr. Carter answered half-mindedly as she went over the parchment herself.

“Then, what happened to the rest of the expedition?” Cedar asked.

Dr. Carter paused and looked up from the document. She was searching for a way to put it into words. “When you ran in here, what were you running from?”

A chill ran up Cedar’s spine as they remembered the thing that met them in front of the tower. “A walking void.”

“That’s what happened to the rest of the expedition,” Irene answered seriously, swallowing at the end of her sentence.

Cedar remained silent, deciding to leave the specifics of what happened to Irene’s company to their imagination. They looked out through the window. “We need to leave.”

“No,” Irene said bluntly, already turning back to the scroll-covered desk.

“No?” Cedar asked as they spun around from the window.

“No,” she repeated. “Not when I have so much more to learn. About this thing, about Atlantis. Don’t you realize how incredible this is, Cedar?”

“It’s not worth wasting your life,” Cedar said as they walked over to her. “It’s been two years outside and what? A decade in here? Do you really want to spend the rest of your life in this place?”

“This place is my life,” Irene said stubbornly. “Atlantis was all I studied, all I thought about. Now I’m here and I’m getting closer to figuring out what happened to it. I can’t leave now.”

“Fucking academics,” Cedar shook their head and looked at The Regulator. They thought for a moment before speaking. “Alright, how about a compromise? You said you needed some advanced equipment to study this thing. So, how about we take it with us? I worked for Prometheus Labs for a while, it doesn’t exist anymore, but I still have connections. We could get one of them to fund your research into The Regulator and even a second expedition.”

Dr. Carter considered the proposition. She ran a hand through her thick hair and scratched the back of her head. “I- I don’t know. It’s hard to say what would happen if we moved The Regulator if we can move it. I think it’d be better to stay here and study it."

“Dr. Carter, if nothing else, you taught me how to be mind-numbingly stubborn. I don’t care how obsessed you are, all your research isn’t going to be worth shit if you don’t get it out of here. So, we go out hand-in-hand, or I drag you out, kicking and screaming.”

Irene stared at Cedar, slack-jawed. Caught completely off guard by their words. Then, a smile ran across her face and she laughed a bit. “Alright, Bardot, alright. I surrender. We’ll try and take The Regulator.”

Cedar nodded. “Good. How do we do that?”

Irene was already going back to the desk. She grabbed a backpack next to it and started shoving her notebooks and documents into it. “Good question. I don’t think there’s anything, magical or otherwise, stopping us from just grabbing it, but I worry that it’s the only thing keeping the roof up.”

Cedar looked at the pillar connected to The Regulator. “Yeah, and we can’t run down the tower, it would come down on us before we could reach the bottom.” They went back to the window once again. One of those railways wasn’t too far from the tower, only ten feet out and thirty feet down. “We could jump.”

Irene turned back to Cedar, not entirely sure she heard them correctly. “Jump?”

“Yeah, jump. That railway’s pretty close,” Cedar said, nonchalantly.

“You cannot be serious,” Irene said as she finished packing her notes.

“Eh, I’ve made worse.” Cedar was still very casual. “One time, I jumped out of a helicopter and into a shrinking time vortex in the Vietnam War. This is a piece of cake.”

Irene cocked her head. “I thought you had a prehistory degree.”

Cedar looked at her and smiled. “I’m sure using it the way my parents wanted me to. Now, I don’t want to sound like a coward, but you should jump first. I don’t want us both to be in here when I pull that thing out of the pillar.”

“What makes you think I can’t do it?” she asked lightheartedly.

“Do you want to?”

“No,” she admitted.

“That’s what I thought,” Cedar said. “Now, come on. Try to land on your feet and bend your knees slightly as you land to break the fall.”

Irene nodded and stepped up onto the window. She looked back at The Regulator, then at Cedar, then down to the railway below her. She took a deep breath and jumped. She was a doctor, a historian, not an adventurer or an action star or whatever Cedar had to be to do stuff like this without thinking twice. She hit the railway at a much greater velocity than she estimated and frowned that Cedar’s advice only served to put most of the fall’s impact onto her ass. She screamed the loudest she had in years.

“You alright, doctor?” Cedar called down.

“I think I just broke my tailbone!” Irene yelled back up.

“That’s fine. You aren’t going to be doing a lot of sitting for the rest of the day anyway.” Cedar turned back into the room and examined The Regulator. It didn’t seem to be actively doing anything, other than emitting light. It made no noise and nothing seemed to be moving within it. Cedar tapped it once, but nothing happened. They looked the pillar up and down one last time, stood up straight, stretched, and grabbed The Regulator with both hands. They tugged it a few times. It was definitely stuck in the pillar, but Cedar was sure they could break it free. They pulled it a little harder. One. Harder. Two. They prepared to put all their strength into the next pull. Three.

Cedar ripped the pyramid from the wall and stumbled back at the sudden lack of resistance. The roof was already starting to sag, the wood it was made out of was cracking and threatening to break. Spinning around, Cedar sprinted to the window and leaped. It was as if they’d done it a thousand times. The tuck and roll was more muscle memory than it was a conscience action. They stood up and tore the goggles off just as the tower collapsed in on itself.

Irene was dusting herself off and taking off her goggles as Cedar looked at the pyramid in their hand. It wasn’t as bright out here, they weren’t sure if it was because of the open area or if the light was dimming. Either way, they handed it to Irene. “Here, put it in the backpack.”

Irene took off the backpack and carefully fit The Regulator inside. She was about to say something as she was putting the backpack on when she suddenly froze, petrified by something just past Cedar. She spoke in a whisper, “Son of a bitch.”

Cedar followed her gaze and found it. An abyss stood on the railway with them. They both started slowly backing away from it.

“How the hell did it get up here?” Cedar asked no one through their teeth.

“I don’t know,” Irene answered. “They just kinda show up.”

“They?” Cedar leaned to the side a bit to try and look behind the void. There were two, maybe three more of them. They blended together, but Cedar could tell that there were multiple entities in that swirling pool of darkness and hate. Cedar felt their heart climb into their throat. Without thinking, they grabbed Irene by the wrist and booked it down the railway, away from those things. They only let go of Irene once they were sure she could keep pace.

“So, what did they do to the expedition team, exactly?” Cedar asked, trying to figure out how scared they should be.

“Oh, you didn’t understand,” she replied, still keeping up with Cedar. “Those are the expedition team.” Cedar decided they should be pretty scared.

“The temple,” Cedar said to themself. “We were close to the temple. If I could just-” Cedar stopped in their tracks, the temple was right under them. Ok, they thought, If that’s the temple the entrance should be over there. Which would mean the Way is-

Their train of thought was interrupted as they realized a void was now standing between them and the way forward. They turned around, only to see that the pack of voids had advanced on them.

“Dr. Carter.” Cedar turned to her, “I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to jump again.”

She gulped. “Your turn to go first!”

“Right,” Cedar agreed. “I’ll catch you.”

It wasn’t as far as the first jump but made more difficult by the fact that the roof of the temple was at an angle. Cedar landed on the roof and struggled for a moment to stand up straight, they looked back up at Dr. Carter. They were getting closer.

“Jump! Quick!”

Irene glanced at both of her flanks. They didn’t seem to move as much as they did grow. Like an optical illusion where a sphere gets bigger as it gets closer to you. She jumped from the railway as Cedar reached out to catch her. She fell into their arms, they were proud that they caught her for a moment, until a green stone the roof was made of slipped from beneath their foot and they both went sliding off. They hit the ground in unison and Cedar got the wind knocked out of them. Irene was already getting up and shaking off the fall while they gasped for air.

“Sorry, sorry,” Irene apologized as she helped Cedar to their feet. “I didn’t realize-”

Cedar just waved her off and motioned for them to go through the temple. The statue of Zeus right where Cedar remembered it, along with the unrotting food. They were watching the food as they stumbled by the statue. There was something strange about it, other than it aging and de-aging so rapidly. The food was in this perpetual state of death, but the coins next to it remained in mint condition. Everything other than the food and people looked like it was untouched. It only affects organic material.

They moved closer to the exit at the opposite end of the temple when the man in robes suddenly appeared in the entryway. Still screaming in Greek. Cedar was about to yell for him to get out of the way, when it formed behind him. His screaming stopped as soon as the dark appendages of the void wrapped around him. He was still trying to scream, they could both see the pure look of terror on his face, if only for a moment before the void enveloped him entirely. There was a sort of distorted gurgling sound, like an audio of someone choking was on a cassette and the tape was being ripped out of it as another void split off from the one in front of them. Cedar and Irene turned around to go out the way they came, but there were already three of them in the way. They were surrounded. The voids kept advancing on them until they were backed against the statue.

“Know any way to stop these things, doctor?” Cedar asked, making no effort to hide their fear.

“No,” she replied hurriedly. “They never tried to go inside the tower.”

A light bulb went off in Cedar’s mind. They looked down at the decaying food as if to confirm their epiphany. Quickly, they opened Irene’s backpack and started digging through it while it was still on her. It was as if a wall of darkness was in front of them now, slowly growing larger and larger.

“Bardot, what are you-” The void reached out and wrapped around her wrist. It was so cold it burned. Cedar finally found The Regulator in the backpack, pulled it out, and threw it into the void.

It was like a flashbang went off. For a moment, they saw and heard nothing. As their vision and hearing slowly came back to them, they realized that there were only five skeletons and a smoldering pyramid on the ground in front of them. It sounded like the sky was breaking open. Irene ran to the entrance to see a full-grown redwood falling from a portal in the sky. Then, a skyscraper that looked like it was built in 2090 erupted from the ground, along with a medieval castle right next to it. To her and Cedar’s surprise, Irene started laughing. She turned back around to Cedar. “I get it. I get what happened to Atlantis!”

Cedar looked at her, then at The Regulator. “I think I do too. But we’ll talk about it when we get out of here.”

Cedar took off their jacket and wrapped it around The Regulator. Instantly, they were both sprinting out of the temple and through the streets. Everything from everywhere was falling from the sky, spaceships, a boat from World War II, a twenty-foot-tall statue of an artist that wasn’t born yet. They passed a boy standing in the street, looking up at the chaos. Cedar spotted a familiar alley and pointed it out to Irene. They both ran down it and were suddenly sucked into a split in reality.

The sound of wood screaming in a horrible choir reverberated into Cedar’s very soul. They could sense, but not see, Dr. Carter. They felt her words more than they heard them, Never got used to this.

They’re not all this bad.

The serpent’s eyes opened and enveloped them within its pupil. It felt like they were being crushed as it dilated. They were in the shelves again. Cedar could see Irene in front of them. She was climbing through a microscopic split in the wood. She twisted her neck to look back at Cedar. Are we lost?

We have to be to find it.

Irene and Cedar were ejected from the shelves and onto The Captain’s ship with an unceremonious THUD.

“Do you still have it?” Irene asked, scrambling to her feet.

Cedar lay their jacket onto the deck of the ship and opened it to reveal the pyramid inside. They looked at Irene and smiled, they were both giddy with excitement. Cedar started, “It wasn’t a regulator. It was a… a… a…”

“A bomb!” they both said in unison.

“How’d you figure it out?” Irene asked.

“Well, I didn’t know what it was when I threw it, but I realized that it was only affecting genetic material. And since the void had to consume people to reproduce, I guess, I figured that it had to be subsisting on them somehow. So, I destroyed the food source. Guess that ignited the fuse.” Cedar said as if they were still a student in her class, dutifully explaining the logic behind an answer.

“Of course!” Irene said, half proud of Cedar, half mad at herself for not realizing sooner. “That’s why they never came into the tower. Getting close to it would have been too risky.”

“Only question is,” Cedar said. “Who planted the bomb?”

They were silent for a moment as they both pondered the question. Who had enough power and hate towards the Atlantians to try and collapse all of time in on them? Was it a curse from the gods?

“Ahoy!” The Captain exclaimed as he scuttled over to Cedar and Irene. “Ye must be the professor.”

“Oh, sorry,” Cedar said, regaining their manners. “Captain, Dr. Carter. Dr. Carter, The Captain.”

“Welcome aboard, lass,” The Captain said as he held out a claw. Irene hesitantly took the claw and shook it.

“Likewise.”

“How long was I gone?” Cedar asked.

“Ah, mere moments, matey. I’d hardly gotten settled,” The Captain answered.

“Yeah, that’s about what I figured. Could you take us back on up to the docks, Captain?”

“‘Course I can, matey. Ale’ll be on me at port,” The Captain said as he scuttled back to the helm. Soon enough, the ship started ascending.

Cedar turned back to Irene. “Hey, I’m sure you’re exhausted, but my folks would kill me if I didn’t invite you over for dinner after all of this. You remember my dad, don’t you? He was in your class your first year at the college.”

Irene nodded. “Maxwell Bardot. How could I forget?” She was silent for a moment as she looked off into the distance. “Let me reorient myself first. There are people I need to let know that I am alive. And I have a paper to write, maybe a thousand papers.”

“I understand completely,” Cedar agreed. “I’m gonna go write down some of my Prometheus connections for you to get in contact with.”

Cedar left Irene to ponder their discoveries. She watched the shelves fly by as the ship ascended to the Library above. There was a sharp pain in her wrist, she’d felt it ever since they left the temple. She was dreading looking at it, but she couldn’t take the anxiety anymore. Pulling back her sleeve, Irene stared into the small, dark circle embedded right where the abyss grabbed her. Atlantis lived on.

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